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US stock indexes mostly down in afternoon trading; oil rises


Crude oil prices for May delivery rose 1.7% to settle at $50.35 per barrel, improving on gains made on Wednesday (29 March).

The high costs of extraction have made it hard for companies to make profits with oil prices remaining low.

"As there are 8 meetings, it's still pretty damn gradual", said Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at The Lindsey Group, in a note.

-The euro fell 0.8 percent to $1.0681 for a third day of declines.

Additionally, the CBOE Volatility Index VIX, +7.19% logged its second lowest quarterly closing level ever at 11.68, according to Dow Jones data, the only other quarter with a lower average was the fourth quarter of 2006.

TRUMP WATCH: U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted that his April 6-7 meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, "will be a very hard one in that we can no longer have massive trade deficits and job losses". May silver ended at $18.206 an ounce, down 4.6 cents, or 0.3%. The PCE price index - an indicator of inflation - rose 2.1 percent year over year, while core PCE increased 1.8 percent from last year.

A record-setting rally for stocks in the wake of President Donald Trump's November election stalled somewhat this month, with some investors pointing to risks to Trump's agenda, including tax reform, after his fellow Republicans failed to pass a health-care bill.

Despite the upward move by the broader markets, numerous major sectors once again ended the day showing only modest moves.


"It's not just the USA economy, but we do see definitely improvement throughout the world", Cavanaugh said.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 65.27 (-0.31 percent) to finish at 20,663.22.

Cenovus slumped 13.7 percent as the DBRS rating agency placed the company under review for a possible credit rating downgrade.

Other companies that sell athletic apparel were pressured as well, including Nike, which lost 1.2 per cent, and Under Armour, which shed 2.3 per cent.

Utilities stocks, which are commonly viewed as a defensive play, rose 0.3%.

Also with earnings today is science Applications International Corp (NYSE: SAIC), which Wall Street expects to report quarterly earnings at $0.78 per share on revenue of $1.09nbn before the bell.

The rapid climb in equities has raised concerns regarding valuations, with the S&P 500 trading at almost 18 times earnings estimates for the next 12 months against its long-term average of 15 times. The S&P 500 closed up 0.8% for the week, down less than 0.1% for the month, and up 5.5% for the quarter. Investors weighed several corporate deals and new economic data on consumer spending and inflation. "We are likely to see a good quarter in terms of earnings, so I think there is some anticipation perhaps in the market here". The ICE U.S. Dollar Index was up 0.4% at 100.37, on track for a 0.6% gain this week.

The tech heavy Nasdaq composite index finished at a new record - up 16.8 at 5,914.

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